Who hasn’t danced on their coverOh breaky dance? The 57-year-old man, who grew up in Mascouche, has come a long way since the release of his album of covers of popular country songs in 1993, which was a smash hit. Steph Carse then made a career in the USA. Today he lives in Florida with his wife Natasha. Meeting this internationally renowned artist, whose goal was never to become popular at any cost, but to touch people.
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You’ve come a long way since your hit Oh breaky dance 1993!
Yes. I have to say that I grew up with a very diverse musical background. My family listened to country and gospel, and my father was an Elvis fan. My grandmother, who was also our guardian, sang operas, which allowed me to discover the world of classical music. After the success of Achy Breaky Dance and my big Canadian tour in 1997, I wanted to broaden my horizons. I felt I had something else to say. So I decided to go to Nashville.
Tell us about your years in Nashville.
They were two difficult but very formative years. I’ve worked with famous people, including Donna Summer. Still, for six months I sometimes slept in my car, showered at the YMCA, and settled for $1 meals at Wendy’s. I invested all my money in recording my songs.
But you must have earned a lot of money with your success in the 90s?
I prefer not to go back in time… I’ll just say it wasn’t me who collected the money back in Quebec…
Do you miss your popularity from those years?
I’ve never been comfortable with popularity. I’ve always been very reserved. Being recognized bothered me so much that I stopped going shopping; it was my father doing my errands. If I had to leave, I would come into the store with a motorcycle helmet on my head… I was so afraid of not living up to people’s expectations.
In 1999 you found yourself on a stage in Vegas…
Uh yes! In 1998, when Andrea Bocelli was unable to perform his concert at Universal Studios’ Portofino Hotel in Orlando, I was asked to replace him on short notice. My appearance opened doors for me. The following year I found myself in Vegas at the Stardust singing pop, opera pop and great classics for a series of shows. I’ve been in and out of Vegas after that, but in 2013 I decided to refocus my career.
For whatever reasons?
I found these performances vocally very demanding. During the day I had to give up talking, and since the climate in Vegas is very dry, I spent my evenings in a steam room…I decided that if I didn’t want to lose my voice, it would be better to quit.
You started in 2006 Grab itan American pop and pop opera album that has won you multiple awards…
In fact, after the album’s release, I produced a TV special, Reach Out, for PBS, which won five FMPTA (Florida Motion Picture and Television Association) awards.
And in 2013 you worked again on a great project that also brought you awards…
I recorded a few songs and then shot a few music videos. I then used all of this material to do a gospel TV special for PBS, My Shining Hour. I tell about my journey and my relationship with God through music. It took me to Israel and Africa. It took three and a half years to complete this project, which was a major turning point in my career because I received multiple Emmys: one for producing My Shinnng Hour and one for the arrangement of the song Amazing Grace used in this special. I’ve also won other Emmys for various projects.
Personally, you have experienced great moments in recent years…
Absolutely. In 2017 I met the woman of my life and still I didn’t believe in her anymore. Being a workaholic, I’ve told myself that my only role in life is to work. Especially since I was already in love. Finally, I met Natasha at a benefit party. Eight months later we were married. From our first handshake, we felt something indescribable.
Do you want to start a family?
This is now my biggest dream! I spent my time saying that in this world, which is going pretty badly, I don’t want children and that I could adopt if I had to. I finally met the right person to start a family. We would like to have two children.
What attracted you most to Natascha?
I thought she was beautiful. I was drawn to the sound of her soft voice from the moment we first met. She was so sincere in what she said! (Natascha gave a talk that day about sex trafficking victims whom she is helping to recover financially.) She is a gentle woman, but she is also very strong.
You decided to move to Florida in the early 2000s, right?
In fact, after Nashville, I chose Orlando, where work took me at a certain time. Living in the south is a dream for many Quebecers, and I’ve known for a long time that I’m allergic to winter. In 2010 I became an American citizen.
In your life and in your work, God has an important place…
I grew up in the faith, but I’m not a church person. I read the Bible because I think it is a wonderful textbook. God is also part of my life. I’m not at war with the church, but I find that it doesn’t always represent well what Christ has come to be among us.
In 2016 you founded the non-profit organization Y iCount to help young people. You talk about bullying in your lectures in schools and in videos. Were you personally a victim? As a child I was very introverted and shy. I was always all alone in my corner, so we took advantage of that. Since my mother also ran a home for people with intellectual disabilities, I was laughed at. In 2015, someone sent me a letter from a boy who killed himself because he was being bullied, and I was very touched. Bullying is a serious problem, and even more so in the age of social media. So I decided to get involved.
In the song and video by break all chains You speak of people who have problems with alcohol and drug addiction. Is that an experience you’ve had?
There are people in my family who have had to struggle with these problems. I stopped drinking six or seven years ago. I thought I drank too much wine. I could empty a bottle by myself and didn’t want to live a day with the same problems as everyone else. Today I feel free to stop drinking.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see me playing baseball with my little boy! I am sure that I will be a good father. I will be firm, but at the same time very gentle…
More information on Steph Carse’s career and projects.